According to a report from the Japan Times, Major League Baseball and the players association for the Nippon Professional Baseball league have agreed to a new posting system, which will allow top Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to be posted in short order, should his team wish to do so. It appears that there are still formal approvals required over the next week or so (MLB and the NPB players association have agreed, but it needs a stamp from a particular NPB committee early next week), but it’s unclear if we’ll have to wait another week for the Tanaka process to begin. It does not sound like, however, that there will be any holdups in this new two-year agreement taking effect soon.
Under the new system, MLB teams would still submit blind bids for the rights to negotiate with Tanaka, and the winner would still be the team that submitted the highest bid.
The primary change to the system is that the actual posting price paid to sign the player would be the average between the top two bids. For example, if the top two blind bids for Tanaka were $100 million and $90 million, the team bidding $100 million would win the rights to negotiate with Tanaka, but the posting price would be just $95 million.
In the past, teams have been given a certain period of time to come up with their bid – two weeks, a month, etc. Once Tanaka is officially posted, we’ll learn when bids are due, and then we will likely know when the winner will be determined. It could all happen relatively quickly, and I’m certain MLB teams hope it will, given that it impacts the rest of their offseason plans.
Under this system, I am suspicious of the Cubs’ ability to be the top bidder for Tanaka, despite their public statements of interest in him.
UPDATE: Something lost in translation? While the report out of Japan made it seem as though this system being done was a fait accompli, Ken Rosenthal reports this just now:
Owner: "Serious reservations" among clubs about posting process. Possible no agreement is reached, which means no Tanaka this off-season.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 14, 2013
So, what’s the deal? Maybe there’s a concern that, although the Japanese players have accepted this system, the team owners won’t? I don’t see why they wouldn’t, since this “top bid wins, average of top two bids is what’s paid” system is definitely not going to artificially depress posting prices. I’m now immediately suspicious, as I should have been before, of why MLB’s owners would be on board with that reported system, since it does nothing to keep costs down.
I guess the sides will continue to negotiate, assuming the report out of Japan was flat-out inaccurate.